Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer in a heavy metal band along with his partner, Lou (Olivia Cooke). The two are living the dream as they play at many gigs with also an album on the horizon. But for Ruben, things are about to take a dramatic turn as he begins to have problems with his hearing.
As Ruben discovers his issues with his hearing, he decides to take some hearing tests. Ruben is told that he is starting to lose his hearing at a rapid rate. He struggles to accept the news, determined to continue playing the drums. After a breakdown and argument with his partner, Ruben finally admits that he needs help regarding his hearing loss. He joins a local deaf community group who will not only help Ruben with his loss of hearing but also challenge Ruben in many areas of his life, especially when it comes to moving forward and acceptance.
Leading actor Riz Ahmed- wow. His performance here is outstanding and tremendous. When compared to some of the actor’s previous work, I feel he has undoubtedly delivered a character unlike anything we have seen from him before. His character is convincing, and it would have been quite a challenging role for the actor to play. I genuinely feel he nailed it and I was left feeling quite impressed as the credits rolled. I must also say actress Olivia Cooke was also brilliant and her character felt just as believable as Ruben.
The film’s plot is dramatic and touching. It is a plot, unlike anything I have seen before, which also carries a freshness. We may have seen a film before where someone goes through changes personally but nothing that relates to hearing loss combined with a character who needs help mentally too. The pacing of this, for the most part, is excellent. I enjoyed the film’s opening, and the plot is underway rather quickly; however, I can’t deny that I did feel the film’s runtime during the transition of the second and third act.
Another positive point is the film’s creative use of audio track and sound design. At times we experience everything Ruben does, and I found this audio effect frightening and dramatic, even more so when Ruben first discovers the hearing problems. The film’s finale was also influential. Even after watching the film a day ago, Sound of Metal is still on my mind, which is always a positive for me.
Overall, this is a powerful film with a tremendous performance from lead actor Riz Ahmed. The film tackles a concept, unlike anything I’ve seen in cinema. It’s a drama film that introduced themes that since seeing the film have stuck with me. The sound design is also superb and creative as we witness one man’s journey towards hearing loss. More than this, he goes on a journey of personal discovery, acceptance and peace. Indeed, Sound of Metal is a film that has surprised me upon viewing and comes highly recommended.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden